Vincent Brown - 8 catches (9 targets), 117 rec yds
I found myself watching this game, remembering Kyle's article about Vincent Brown and how he should be used, and nodding along. When he's given time and space to work those double-moves, Brown leaves cornerbacks grabbing at air and creates big plays down the field.
The coaching staff seems to have figured it out, finally, so maybe these types of games will happen more often for Vincent.
Keenan Allen - 6 catches (9 targets), 115 rec yds, 1 rec TD
Five games into the season, Allen has already taken the role that many of us thought he could. He has become the team's most dangerous, and most versatile, receiver. He also took over punt return duties from Eddie Royal (after Royal's fumble). If the Chargers are to have a decent record at the end of the season, it'll be because Keenan Allen is ready to be a star in the NFL.
Jarret Johnson - 6 tackles (4 solo), 2 sacks
Pretty weird that Jarret Johnson leads the team in sacks (he has 4.0, nobody else has more than 1.0). He has been really great, but is obviously wearing down as he (like Eric Weddle) is trying to do it all by himself. I saw him get dinged up at least twice last night, so I'm hoping he's healthy enough to play next week. He's pretty much the only recourse the Chargers have in rushing opposing QBs.
Sean Lissemore - 4 tackles (2 solo) 1 sack
Lissemore doesn't get on the field much, but the Chargers defense came alive when he did. I saw a lot more four-man fronts in the second half, with Lissemore joining Jarret Johnson, Kendall Reyes and Corey Liuget. That seemed to be the only way San Diego could slow down the Raiders' running game, forcing them to be one-dimensional. I expect to see more of it in the future, especially because Lissemore looked strong each time he was on the field.
Philip Rivers - 36/49, 411 pass yds, 2 pass TDs, 3 INTs
Well, hello there, Mr. Edward Hyde.
I can't wait to go back and look at the film of this game. I suspect that the Raiders bothered Rivers the same way the Titans did, by putting bodies and pressure in front of him instead of actually trying to sack him, preventing him from stepping into his throws. Either way, Rivers lost his confidence and had happy feet once again. Gone was the guy that had been throwing his receivers open, replaced by the guy that waits...and waits...and waits.....until the play becomes disastrous.
The Oakland Raiders defense deserve a lot of credit, especially former Charger Kevin Burnett, for playing such good coverage without Tyvon Branch in the game.
I've been trying, this season, to keep these "awards" strictly to individual players. However, I don't know which players along the offensive line are most responsible for the putrid performance we saw last night, but I do know that they were all bad.
It wasn't the lack of protection on Rivers that concerned me. In fact, I thought Rivers regularly had enough time but simply held on too long. What bothered me was the complete and utter lack of a running game. This Raiders team gave up 226 rushing yards to the Jacksonville Jaguars. They're not the 1985 Chicago Bears, and yet San Diego averaged 1.7 yards per carry and (understandably) gave up on the run in the second half.
The 2013 Chargers cannot win without a good performance from their offense. The offense can't score points without balance. Against the Raiders, the offensive line was regularly pushed backwards (Johnnie Troutman was actually flung backwards, landing on his back, more than once). There was no balance, and we saw the result.
Eddie Royal - 3 catches (8 targets), 26 rec yds, 1 fumble
The simplest stat to show why the Chargers lost to the Raiders last night? 5-0. As in, the Chargers turned the ball over five times and the Raiders didn't turn it over once. Two of those turnovers were directly caused by Royal, once on a muffed punt and once when he gave up on a route that Rivers was throwing to (resulting in an easy interception).
Royal hasn't been so great since starting out the season at a record-breaking speed. This performance isn't going to help get him back on track.
Derek Cox and Richard Marshall
Blame John Pagano all you want, and I'm right there with those that hate his play-calling, but there is simply not enough talent or depth on this defense to compete at this level.
It's pretty basic, actually. If the defense doesn't force a three-and-out, the starters get worn down to the point where reserves come in and the opposing team walks into the end zone as if they were playing a Pop Warner team. Forcing three-and-outs is a good plan, but it's a little difficult without any pass rush to speak of and without a single cornerback that can cover a wide receiver.
If we're dealing in familiars, Cox reminds me of Antoine Cason (without the big-play ability) and Marshall reminds of Marcus Gilchrist (but slower). The only cornerback on this team that's worth a damn is Shareece Wright, and he has spent the last few years getting injured every time he steps onto a football field.
If I were an opposing offensive coordinator, I would simple throw to my WRs until the defensive linemen got tired. Then I'd run it down their throats. This is essentially when the Raiders did last night (although, when the WRs were even semi-covered, Terrelle Pryor just ran it himself and took advantage of how bad the CBs are at tackling).